Most of us set our clocks back one hour this past Sunday. Hence, we are starting to feel the effects of Daylight Savings Time. It is indeed getting darker earlier now. Nighttime will be longer for the next 44 days until winter arrives with the return of longer daylight. We know with the return of longer sunlight, ambient temperatures get colder with bitter cold winter weather for a while. Warmer temperatures do not return with longer days of sunshine.
But anyway, let us deal with these longer periods of darkness. Its actually called Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a mood disorder characterized by depression that occurs at the same time every year. Seasonal affective disorder occurs in climates where there is less sunlight at certain times of the year. Symptoms include fatigue, depression, hopelessness, and social withdrawal. Treatment includes light therapy (phototherapy), talk therapy, and medications. Source: Google.
I am a Registered Nurse, certified in Dermatology Nursing. I am am also a board certified APRN-CNS. I am not going to get technical in this blog. Just a note, I do not recommend phototherapy. I treated patients with phototherapy for many years when I worked in dermatology. Phototherapy carries a risk of skin cancer. It is mainly to be used to treat photoresponsive dermatosis, not Seasonal Affective Disorders.
There seems to be a difference in SAD in 2020 compared to 2021. In 2020, this strange and dangerous pandemic had just started. We had to quickly shelter-in-place to stay safe. We did not really care about the darkness. We had to stay safe! But, now in 2021, we have the promise of safe and effective COVID vaccines and we are so ready to return to a sense of normalcy. Now, we do not want to go back into our pandemic caves! We are now focused on more sunlight and happiness. Hence, SAD may be more challenging in 2021 than back in 2020.
General recommendations for approaching SAD.
Overall, this is what I generally recommend:
Take full advantage of daylight hours. If you live in the Midwest daytime hours can be overcast and cloudy. Chicago can outright look just like Gotham City for weeks! Talk about bleak and depressing! But folks need to get out of the house!!! Getting out of the house during the bitter cold fall and winter months, means going inside where there is good artificial lighting.
However, we remain in a dangerous pandemic and we are also in flu season! To take advantage of indoor venues, folks really need to get fully vaccinated for both COVID and influenza as we continue public health safety!
If you are fully vaccinated, you should be able to go SAFELY to the following suggested indoor activities during this period of increased darkness. Try and set a goal of 10,000 steps on most days of the week at the following indoor venues. But remember, the following activities are indoors and you will have to remain masked as the pandemic continues. If you cannot remain masked, please do not go.
10 Recommended indoor venues for Chicagoans to manage SAD
- Go browsing at a Big Box like a Walmart SuperCenter, Sam’s Club or Costco for some retail therapy.
- The Chicago Cultural Center is excellent with many wonderful exhibits and good lighting.
- Chicago’s Pedway is great with informative wall displays and shops.
- Go to a shopping mall for powerwalking. Chicago does not have many, but Gurnee Mills is great and one of the last remaining shopping malls.
- Block 37 is a great Downtown shopping mall.
- The Shops at North Bridge is upscale, huge and fantastic!
- Water Tower Place is a wonderful mall on the MagMile.
- Macy’s on State Street is large and colorful.
- The Museum Campus is great! The Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium are wonderful options for walking and viewing exhibits.
- The Museum of Science and Industry is a fantastic option! Full a bright lights and many exhibits.
Fitness centers are nice. They are lively, folks can easily get in physical activities, they have nice music and good lighting. However, when folks are working out, they will not mask up indoors. So, keep this in mind, stay safe and consider the consequences of your decisions.
Try to travel or take a nice trip to a warm climate. You can avoid the bitter cold, snowy and icy conditions during the next 44 days and spend some time in warmer climates.
Go to a casino!
Go to a casino-This is an absolute last resort!!!! Be careful of spending… keep things controlled. There are a lot of sights, lights, music and whistles, but be realistic. Casinos are not giving away money and you more than likely will not win a penny. Just go slow. Remember to stay masked.
We Chicagoans have a long way to go before returning to Standard Time and the warmth of springtime. Stay safe! We Can Do This!!!